Was Jesus a high priest?

Isn't it true that Jesus was a high priest and therefore he offered himself as a sacrifice?


It is true that the New Testament Book of Hebrews claims that Jesus was a self-sacrificing high priest. It states: "Christ appeared as a high priest . . . and . . . through his own blood . . . obtained eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:11-12).

Now, remember that the New Testament's Jesus could not violate, even inadvertently, one commandment of the Mosaic Law (Matthew 5:17-18) and that Jesus supposedly lived his life without committing even one sin (Hebrews 4:15, 1 John 3:5).

At the same time, the New Testament also teaches that the Mosaic Law was in effect until the very moment of Jesus' death. Paul writes, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4). He also stated that the "end of the law" supposedly occurred at the moment of Jesus' death: "[Jesus] has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14).

If the Mosaic Law was in effect until the very moment of his death, Jesus could not be a biblically legitimate priest. Until the actual end of the Mosaic Law the sole legitimate biblical priesthood would be none other than the Aaronic priesthood (Exodus 29:9). A significant corollary to Jesus' statement in Matthew 5:17-18 concerning his fulfillment of the Law is that the Aaronic priesthood could not be nullified or superseded prior to the moment of Jesus' death, the Mosaic Law being in effect until that time. In addition, Matthew 1:3 and Luke 3:33 claim that Jesus was a descendant of Judah and, consequently, a member of the tribe of Judah. If Jesus was a member of the tribe of Judah he lacked the Aaronic lineage of the biblically legitimate priesthood. During his lifetime Jesus could not officiate as a high priest and still be obedient to the tribal lineage requirements of the Mosaic Law. Any claim that Jesus was a high priest would have to refer to the supposed post-Mosaic Law period following his death.

The allegation that Jesus acted as a high priest and, in essence, sacrificed himself presents another problem in New Testament theology. If "Christ . . . offered himself" (Hebrews 9:14) outside the Sanctuary he did not fulfill the Mosaic Law and is to be "cut off." The Mosaic Law states: "Any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, and does not bring it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to offer it to the Lord, that man also shall be cut off from his people" (Leviticus 17:8-9). The "tent of meeting" referred in Jesus' day to sacrifices being offered within the Temple compound. There can be no true fulfillment of the Law, as promised in Matthew 5:17-18, unless there is literal and consistent accomplishment of the Mosaic Law. Was Jesus a legitimate high priest and was his death a legitimate sacrificial offering? The Mosaic Law says, absolutely not!

© Gerald Sigal